Summary and Analysis Chapter 39



Bathsheba was riding up steep Yalbury Hill in the gig, with Troy walking alongside. He was no longer in uniform. They were discussing his gambling losses, which he blamed on a wet racetrack. Bathsheba tearfully predicted the eventual forfeit of the farm if he continued his present rate of loss. He grumbled displeasure at her "chicken-hearted" wifely ways.

A woman appeared at the brow of the hill and, while Troy's back was to her, asked him whether he knew the closing time of the workhouse gates. Her voice startled him, but he did not turn. When she heard him reply, "she uttered an hysterical cry, and fell down." Troy ordered Bathsheba to leave.

Alone with the woman, Troy asked her why she had not written. She said that she had been afraid to. Troy gave her the little money he had with him, explaining that his wife kept him short. He told the woman to stay at the workhouse, Casterbridge Union-house, until Monday, when he would meet her on Gray's Bridge, give her as much money as he could obtain, and find lodgings for her.

When Troy caught up with Bathsheba, he admitted that he knew the woman, but not her name.

"I think you do.'"

"'Think if you will, and be — ' The sentence was completed by a smart cut of the whip round Poppet's flank, which caused the animal to start forward at a wild pace. No more was said."


We suspect at once that "the woman" is Fanny Robin — in fact, Troy lets the name slip. Otherwise Hardy maintains the term "the woman." Troy's concern for her is real. Fanny is another victim of his inability, or his refusal, to live by anything but impulse. Impulse dictated his marriage to Bathsheba, which now is obviously crumbling. His childish nature is further revealed by his complete disregard for the financial ruin that his gambling losses will eventually bring about.